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River Rhondda

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Title: River Rhondda  
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Subject: Pontypridd, Rhondda (disambiguation), Evan James (poet), District of Rhondda, Rhondda
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River Rhondda

River Rhondda near its source in Blaenrhondda

The River Rhondda (Welsh: Afon Rhondda) is a river in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales which has two major tributaries; the Rhondda Fawr (English: Large Rhondda) and the Rhondda Fach (English: Little Rhondda).


  • Description 1
  • Course 2
  • Improving water quality 3
  • External links 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • References 6


Rhondda Fawr at Gelli showing the flood walls

The river has two major tributaries: the Rhondda Fawr and the Rhondda Fach (respectively, the "big" and "little" Rhondda). Despite these names, both tributaries are of similar length. Both valleys display the U-shape cross-sections typical of glaciated valleys, having been eroded during successive ice ages. They cut deeply into the thick South Wales Coal measures which comprise sandstones and mudstones and coal seams of Carboniferous age. The whole form of the river and its surrounding urbanisation has been dominated by coal mining and the communities that grew up to exploit the rich coal seams. Much of the valley has suffered severe subsidence because of the removal of coal from beneath the valley floor. The houses and streets have subsided with the result that river levels are, in parts, higher than the surrounding houses. In order to contain the river and prevent flooding, walls have been built, sometimes across the ends of streets - these are known as The Rhondda walls.


The Rhondda Fawr has its source on the eastern side of

  1. ^
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Explorer map sheet 166 Rhondda & Merthyr Tydfil/Merthyr Tudful
  3. ^ Lewis (1959), pg 1.
  4. ^ Lewis (1959), pg 2.
  5. ^


  • Lewis, E.D. (1959). The Rhondda Valleys. London: Phoenix House. 


  • : photos of the River Rhondda

External links

Since the early 1970s the river has been steadily improving in quality largely due to the closure of all the coal mines and through the investment in sewerage and sewage treatment.

The mining industry had a catastrophic impact on the quality of the river with all the mine waters being pumped straight into the river with no treatment. For very long periods, probably more than a century, the river was continuously black with coal solids and little if anything could live in the river. This was compounded by the very basic sewage disposal arrangements which saw all the sewage discharged into the same river. Not until the 1970s was there real investment made in improving the sewage treatment arrangements.

Improving water quality

The Rhondda Fach rises about a mile to the east of the source of the Rhondda Fawr on the hills above Blaenrhondda in a marshy area between Mynydd Beili Glas and Mynydd Bwllfa at an elevation of about 489m OD.[4][5] The fledgling river is first contained in the Lluest-wen Reservoir before flowing down into Maerdy and then on through Ferndale, Tylorstown, and Ynyshir before joing its sister tributary at Porth.

. Pontypridd at River Taff with the confluence before finally reaching its Trehafod and Porth, Dinas, Tonypandy, Llwynypia, Ystrad Rhondda, Ton Pentre, Pentre, Treorchy, Treherbert). The river then passes through a string of mining towns and villages including Cwm Rhondda: Welsh, and runs down the Rhondda Valley, (hanging valley where it is joined by the Nant y Gwair via a classic example of a Blaenrhondda The river runs through [3]

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